Fruits and vegetables are a vital source of vitamins, minerals and fiber that support a healthy body and prevent serious illnesses. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is also believed to maintain well-being and help the body combat stress. The United States Department of Agriculture suggests eating between three and five portions of fruits and vegetables daily.
Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that our body needs but is unable to produce for itself. They are a rich source of antioxidants, also known as the ACE vitamins for vitamins A, C and E. Antioxidants prevent diseases by protecting the body against damaging free radicals while also maintaining health. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, which maintains healthy gums, teeth and bones. Tomatoes, broccoli, spinach and red peppers are all rich in antioxidants.
Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of minerals essential to enzyme systems, bone development and healthy organs. According to a report on fruits and vegetables by the Institute of Food Research, deficiencies in minerals can lead to muscular weakness, mental confusion and heart problems. Green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are good sources of iron and calcium.
You must eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to get all the nutrition you need. Each one contains a unique variety of vitamins, minerals and plant compounds that benefit the body in different ways. Phytochemicals are the plant chemicals that produce the diverse colors in fruits and vegetables, which act like antioxidants in the body. Red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamin A, while green leafy vegetables contain high concentrates of vitamin B. Fresh, frozen, tinned, cooked or juiced fruits and vegetables all provide nutritional value. However, some fruits and vegetables are best eaten raw because of the essential nutrients under the skin.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Some vitamin or mineral deficiencies lead to serious illnesses. An acute deficiency in vitamin C, for example, causes scurvy. Phytochemicals also prevent serious illnesses. Cauliflower and brussels sprouts all contain phytochemicals that prevent cancer. The low fat content in most fruits and vegetables maintain cholesterol levels, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Fruits and vegetables have a low Glycemic Index (GI) due to their high content of fiber. We feel fuller for longer when we eat fruits and vegetables because the glucose is released into the body slowly, unlike foods that make us hungry again quickly. Broccoli and jalapeno peppers support weight loss by increasing the metabolism.